Would it surprise you to learn that, today, more than 3.2% of the global workforce works remotely?
That’s over four million employees.
Maybe your company offers remote or flexible work options or has satellite offices around the world. Whatever the case, many small and large-scale organizations are moving towards remote work mandates that allow employees to work away from the office – not only a few days a week but permanently.
As the global workforce demands more flexible work options, companies have to adapt – especially when 51% of employees would willingly change companies for more remote work opportunities!
This hits home for us at Kudos® as well. Remote work options are one of the most asked for and coveted perks in our office. For some, the flexibility that remote work offers is more valuable than a raise or other bonuses.
While remote work may seem to be highly attractive, working away from your office-bound counterparts can create a disconnect between those who work remotely some of the time, and others who are fully remote, leading to feelings of loneliness or isolation. And as a leader or person of authority in your company, you know that managing remote work and engaging your remote teams is essential for productive, loyal workforces!
So, how can you engage your top talent even when you’re miles (sometimes oceans) apart?
Start with team building
Team building sounds like an old-school exercise, but most teams participate in some form of team building even without structured events or directives from leadership. For remote employees, creating a sense of community and partnership (like a team) is a key part of their success, as remote employees can’t always connect in conventional ways.
But that doesn’t mean remote team building has to be boring.
An effective method for bringing teams together is to gamify your team building activities (especially during the onboarding process of new remote employees). Not in the same region or country? No problem! Your company can go virtual and encourage remote teams to connect via chat, video, online conferencing and more. Video conferencing software options have been compiled by G2 so that you can pick the one that works best for your teams.
By having a little fun, you’re making it easier for remote employees to feel like they’re part of a team.
You can also start things off with icebreakers, allowing remote team members to get to know one another better at a pace that works for everyone. Quizzes, for example, work well because they’re quick, timely, and can be tailored to each individual team of remote workers.
Make communication easy and consistent
As is the case with any successful relationship, communication is key. Making communication both simple and consistent for remote teams serves to benefit both your company and your talent!
The first step with any remote team is hiring remote contractors with the types of qualities that will ensure success. Having good communication skills is a must for remote work. Once you have the right team, think about introducing tools to promote productivity.
Using collaborative tools like Monday, Slack, Zoom, Asana, Google Hangouts and more provides you with a foundation you need to keep remote teams informed and aware of business developments while also allowing for continuous communication.
This not only benefits your company but also its culture – when teams feel readily connected to and with one another, it fosters collaboration and engagement through knowledge sharing and improved employee relationships.
Nurture your company culture
It’s easy to assume that, with the right resources, remote teams will thrive outside of the office and away from the majority of their company. But company culture so typically translates to in-office environments that we can quickly forget to include remote employees!
Instead of focusing just on providing them with tools, ensure you’re emphasizing the entire process. Communicate with your remote teams, include them in office-wide team meetings (even if they’re virtual), involve them in company decisions that impact their work/life balance, and provide them with opportunities to connect with others in the company. You can also have your remote team members lead virtual meetings utilizing your favorite video conferencing tool.
Remember: by building trust among your remote teams, you’re nurturing an inclusive culture where employees don’t have to be in-office to feel connected to the heart of your organization.
Provide growth and development opportunities
Studies show that, by 2028, approximately 73% of all working teams will be operating remotely, at least part of the time. That means a majority of employees will have the option of working outside the office, and why not?
But failing to make growth and development opportunities available to remote employees, or forgetting to make teams aware of them, may mean that a lot of your top talent will eventually jump ship for companies willing to provide the chance for growth.
To mitigate this challenge, use your collaborative tools (like Slack) to create boards or channels where you can post internal roles or development opportunities, like new jobs, courses, etc.
Or, ask your remote teams what type of growth opportunities they’d like to see in the company – this could include paid classes/courses, new tools or software, creating a new role for experienced employees looking to move up, and more.
By opening up these growth opportunities to all employees, not just office-bound teams, you can ensure that all members have a chance to pursue roles that will challenge them and help them grow.
Don’t forget about recognition
One of the most common mistakes that companies make with their remote teams is failing to recognize them – not only as hard workers and contributors, but for their skills and dedication to their organization.
You can work on preventing disengagement today, simply by recognizing your remote teams. Whether you use an internal strategy or software to nurture engagement through recognition, there are three key elements you need to keep in mind in order to effectively recognize your remote employees:
- Make it timely
- Make it specific
- Make it visible
When recognition is given in the moment or within a few days of the event, action or behaviour that is worthy of recognition , as opposed to in performance reviews or separate meetings weeks to months later, it has more value because it recognizes positive behaviours as they occur. Similarly, when you make recognition specific and visible, it encourages those positive behaviours in all team members across the organization, allowing everyone to not only join in on the recognition but also give recognition where and when it’s due.
You may also consider making announcements and featuring new team members in the company newsletter, website and/or social platforms, all of which are sure to make new team members feel welcomed. And just as if they were in the office, assign a buddy to check in with new hires daily to see how they are doing, answer questions and help them navigate the virtual office.
You may just find that, by keeping recognition timely, specific and visible, remote and office-bound teams become more engaged in their work and your company’s culture! Giving someone kudos is always appreciated, and as using a social tool like Kudos® can bring the office team and remote team together.
Guest contribution by Tom Short at Kudos®
Over the course of 25 years, Tom has used his passion for entrepreneurship and marketing to launch numerous, highly successful companies, including Kudos®, a peer to peer social recognition platform that promotes and enhances corporate culture, motivates individuals and creates great employee experiences. You can keep up and connect with Tom on LinkedIn.